2008 July 19 Saturday.

The smart little girl who comes to my classroom every Saturday morning, couldn't come today because she had a bad headache.

I hope she feels better soon.

With my morning lesson canceled, I had the perfect opportunity to get back to basics on the electric bass guitar.

I am all the way up to track 20 on a 65 track instructional CD that came with the textbook entitled; EASY BASS.

Yeah, that's right up my alley. ABC 123.

After about 90 minutes of practice, I had to change clothes and get ready to go the the Grand Hotel by 14:00 for the celebration of the 45th Anniversary of

Asahikawa Women's Junior College, 40th Anniversary of Asahikawa University etc.

It was a huge event, with the likes of who is who in Hokkaido, all in attendance.

Even the Mayor of Asahikawa, Mr. Nishikawa himself, found the time in his busy schedule, to show up and make a speech.

See the photo above/left for details.

After about one hour of speeches and awards presentations, everyone of the more than 220 people who came today, went into the room next door for food and drinks.

We were also treated to an excellent performance of some very complicated music by the
旭川大学高等学校吹奏楽部 Asahikawa University High School Brass Band.

They were really good!

They must practice almost every day, in order to pull off a perfect performance like the one they did today.

Another delightful treat for today, was to discover that the elderly gentleman seated to my left at the banquet table, and who teaches information processing on Tuesday mornings, is in fact distantly related to my wife's family!

To keep it short, he is the husband of the sister of the mother of the the husband of my wife's older sister.

Therefore we have the same two nephews, in common!

Did you follow that? OK, here it is again in reverse order.

My wife has two sisters. One older sister and one younger sister.

My wife's older sister, is married to a man.

That man's mother also has a sister.

That sister is married to the elderly gentleman who sat next to me today at the banquet table.

Yeah, I know. It's a long and winding road, but all of us are connected in some way.

Whether we know it or not.


2008 July 14 Monday thru July 18 Friday.

I was not as hot this week, as it was last week, and I didn't need to turn on the cooling system.

About a month ago, my wife received a used digital camera from her younger sister.

It is a
RICHO Caplio R2 5.0 Mega Pixel unit, and you can see it in the photo above/left. Ikuko almost never uses a camera, so I have developed the custom of taking this camera with me where ever I go.

It is by far, smaller than any other camera that I have, and it takes very good photos.

Now, I will never miss another photo opportunity because I didn't have a camera with me.

Thanks Yuki! This camera will be well used by me.

Not only does this camera take still photos, but it also takes motion video as well.

Plus, it can also be used as a voice recorder for sound only.

Isn't it amazing what electricity and magnetism can do.

On Monday, I had my last lesson with an 8 year old girl who has been coming to my classroom for about 5 years.

She and her family will be moving to Chitose because of her father's job.

I hope they can find a good English classroom in that city so that she can continue her studies there.

On Thursday at about 20:30 while I was walking the aisles at the next door supermarket, a beautiful young woman runs up to me saying; "ノーマン先生、ノーマン先生!"

She came right up to me and we looked at each other face to face.

I could not remember who she was, until she said; "I am Haruka".

As soon as I heard that, I knew exactly who she was.

I haven't seen her in about 3 years, but she and her brother who are fraternal twins 一卵性双生児, used to come to my classroom during their elementary school and junior high school days.

Now they are both 23 years old and attending universities in California USA.

How's that for a job well done, by all hands on deck.

It's a small world after all. Be kind to your neighbors.


2008 July 12 Saturday and July 13 Sunday.

At about 18:00 on Saturday, I went over the hill and down into TomiSawa to attend a private BBQ party being held for an American guy, how used to live in Asahikawa for a long time, but now lives in Atlanta Georgia.

I haven't seen this guy for about 8 or 9 years, but when I saw him again today, it was like we had never been apart.

Some people just don't change no matter how long you know them.
This party was rather unusual for me, because there were no Japanese people at it.

Only non-Japanese. There were people from Canada, England, Holland, Sri Lanka and of course, the USA.

As such, the common language was English.

One thing I noticed, is that these people like to talk about other people a lot.

In other words, GOSSIP. Gossip is something which I don't like much and almost never do myself, so today I heard a lot of strange stories about some of the people who were at the party, and some other people who weren't at the party.

Stories I had never heard before, even though the events being described happened both recently, and many years ago.

As a result, I grew rather bored with most of the conversations, and went inside the house to play my bass guitar which I had brought along with me.

Fortunately, the owner of the house also likes to play live music so he soon joined me with his guitar and microphone, and we started making some groovy sounds.

The photo in today's blog shows one of my bass guitars and one of my six string electric guitars, sitting in my classroom, after being prepared for transport to the party.

I needed to do an equipment check before I left, and also put all new strings on the stratocaster.

The guy from Holland who was at the party, was also a very good guitar player and singer, and he knew a lot of good songs from memory.

So, I played along with him too on the bass guitar.

The party ended about midnight.

Because I was driving that day, I drank no alcohol at the party but I had a few beers when I got home.

I continued to play the bass guitar at very low volume, practicing the basics over and over again, until about 5:00 Sunday morning.

Music and languages are my specialty, and what I like to do most.


2008 July 7 Monday thru July 11 Friday.

The WORLD comes to Hokkaido.

What a nightmare for the traffic cops.

I stayed far away from all of the hoop-la, and didn't leave Asahikawa.

I had already scoped out the Windsor Hotel Lake Toya, during Golden Week of 2007 on May 12.

Click here to read the details.

Unfortunately for the World Leaders and their entourages, the weather at Lake Toya this year on July 7, 8 and 9, was not the best.

From Live News Broadcasts, I could see that it was very overcast and dark.

Not the best way to remember this beautiful island of Hokkaido.

When it is clear and sunny, Lake Toya is absolutely stunning in its own natural beauty.

The Windsor Hotel has the best view, because it is located on the highest hill, that surrounds the lake itself.

A Magnificent View from the top.

Will this
34th G8 Summit be remembered as the 3 days which rocked Hokkaido?

Hmmmm,... I wonder. I will be here as usual, 365/24/7 waiting for yet another sunny day, and visiting the Windsor Hotel again, in the very near future.

By the way, a word about the Annual G8 Summits, in general.

Every year, this is a big media event, and that is about all that it is.

Nothing of real importance is decided at the G8 Summits.

All of the really serious issues about how the world will be managed in the near and not so distant future, is decided at the Annual
Bilderberg Summit that is held every year BEFORE the G8 Summit.

What does that tell you?

Exactly! Everything that is really really really important, has already been decided before the annual G8 summit even starts.

Therefore, the top of the top in the Governments of the BIG 8, can relax and talk about family and friends and favorite memories and, etc.

Consider the G8 Summit to be a very short summer vacation in some far and distant land for all the government leaders of the first world countries.

The only disappointment I have about the whole affair this year, was the lousy weather that G. W. Bush and Family, had to suffer through during their very brief visit to Hokkaido.

They arrived in Hokkaido, and left from Hokkaido aboard Air Force One, at Chitose Air Base.

I know that somebody somewhere in Hokkaido, was there on those days to take photos of Air Force One coming into and going out of Chitose Air Base.

I wish I could see those photos.

That would be an excellent adventure, in and of itself.

If you have some, please e-mail me at

Thanx again!!!


2008 July 5 Saturday and July 6 Sunday.

Saturday morning starting at 10:30, was my private lesson with the 8 year old girl, who really tries to speak English at every moment during her lessons.

What a pleasure this is for her, and me as well. Today, we used some hand written cards that I made many years ago, to learn words of opposite meaning, ANTONYMS 反意語.

Words such as HOT and COLD, LONG and SHORT, DEEP and SHALLOW, etc. Not only did she learn all of the words, but she used her imagination in coming up with short sentences, that use both words in a meaningful way.

For example, The ocean is DEEP but small rivers are SHALLOW.

Girls have LONG hair, but boys have SHORT hair (not always).

Summer is HOT and WINTER is cold in Hokkaido. And so on and so forth.

It was a very interesting lesson for both her and myself, and when her mother came by my classroom at 11:30 to pick her daughter up, the eight years old girl was surprised to see that ONE HOUR had already passed by, like it was just one wrinkle in time.

The rest of the day I spent watching some interesting BBC documentaries on YOU TUBE, and also playing my black
Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar, UNPLUGGED while listening to some of my favorite POP ROCK CDs on the music player.

It is overcast and rainy today, and not a nice day to be out and around, unless you absolutely have to be.

On Sunday morning, I woke up at about 07:00 and noticed immediately, that it was going to be very hot and humid today.

Yesterday's rain and today's sunny weather were combining to create that heavy, sticky and hot air, which really takes the fight out of me.

Time to close off all the windows, and turn on the cooler.

I have a big job to do today, and you can see what that job was in today's blog photo.

Yep! That's right, A3 sized full color laminated presentation cards, designed to go along with that very well known CHILDREN'S SONG; Mary had a Little Lamb.

What a classic! And so easy for even 3 year olds to understand.

Not only do the words of the song appear on the back of each picture card in both English and Japanese, but I also made three A4 sized handouts, which the kindergarten teachers can use to teach the kids the lyrics, in both English and Japanese.

The entire job took me about 5 hours to complete.

Well worth the effort as I will be using these cards and my acoustic guitar tomorrow morning at めばえ幼稚園 and many more times after that, at various gigs.

FUN FOR HIRE!!! Have Car and Guitar. Will Travel.


2008 July 1 Tuesday thru July 4 Friday.

Happy Birthday USA! How long has it been now,.....

Let's see the year 2008 minus the year 1776 equals; 232 years as a sovereign nation.


Try a little harder, and you might rival the glory of the
Roman Empire.

Wait a minute, what am I talking about. Consider China.

How long has that culture been on this planet?

Four thousand some years is what I have heard. Now, that's a long time.

Anyway, July 4 is a National Holiday in the USA, and falling on a Friday this year, you can be sure that a lot of people will be taking a very long and enjoyable 3 day weekend.

Because the month of July is rather hot, in most of the continental USA, there will be lots of outdoor activities including BBQ parties, softball games, volleyball games etc.

The climax of the day is the BIG FIREWORKS DISPLAY 花火大会 in each and every city, town and village, that you might happen to be in, on that day.

In my hometown of Spokane Washington, it is hot and dry every year in July, and the perfect season to get out the pyrotechnics, and enjoy the lights and smoke.

I remember well, how I used to ride my
Schwinn Cherry Picker banana seat bicycle all over the place, visiting the fireworks stands, that sprang up all over the small city of Spokane.

Each and every year, they had something new to offer, plus all of the old favorites that we bought every year.

Another thing that I learned to do, while reading my Encyclopedia Britannica, was how to make gunpowder out of the 3 essential ingredients.

Salt Peter, Sulpher and Charcoal.

I didn't make any explosive devices, only sparklers and fountains that shot out an enormous amount of heat and light, and were not dangerous to the public at large.

Boy, those were the days.

Nowadays, I live in Japan where these type of small fireworks are available for sale to the public at most stores, of any kind, all around Hokkaido.

Oddly enough, even though I had enjoyed this type of activity when I was just a kid in the USA, I have never bought nor used any small scale fireworks in Japan.
I like the big sky burst displays of fireworks much better.

Maybe this is because I have no children of my own, and therefore no real opportunity to buy and use these hand sized fireworks, which are so popular in all parts of Japan.

According to my calendar, there will be a big fireworks display on Sunday July 13 starting at 20:15 near the 北旭川大橋, and then, many more after that date.

Click here for a full schedule of the big fireworks displays in Hokkaido for 2008. See ya there.


2008 June 30 Monday.

The last day of June and heading into summer full steam ahead.

I will be closing my little classroom for about 3 weeks from July 27 until August 17 so that I can relax Spread Eagle Style in the great outdoors of Hokkaido.

The photo you can see in today's blog is of Oregano Flowering Plants that are located just outside my window along the sidewalk.

In fact, the color of this flower is the same as the color of my laminated signs, that I have taped to my windows.

I made them that way on purpose.

By the way, on last Saturday at about 15:30 while I was walking along the upper cycling road of the Biei River and towards the RyoJin Bridge, I was suddenly and viciously attacked by two crows!

The attack went on for a good five minutes, as I was forced to spin around, walk backwards, walk sideways and flail my arms around above my head.

The two of them were most definitely after me, and I was not very close to their nesting areas, so I know there must be another reason.

Crows have good memories.

Crows reincarnate at a more rapid pace than humans.

These crows remembered me from Kodiak Alaska.

Yiikes!!! What comes around goes around.

I lived for 2 and one half years in Kodiak Alaska, and I must say that there is nothing to do there.

Except, go walking around the hills and valleys and shoot guns and camp out.

There are many dangerous Kodiak Brown Bears all over the island, so it is just common sense to take firearms with you when you go outside of the USCG Air Station gates.

I packed a .357 magnum revolver, and a rifle with me at all times outside of the airbase.

The long gun would be either a Ruger Mini 14 Model .223 caliber semi automatic rifle, or an 8mm Mauser German WWII vintage standard issue rifle, with scope.

Either way, if I had happened to stumble into a bear, I would have had a good chance of surviving.

I never did run into a bear. Never. But, I did bring the firearms with me every time.

So, I started shooting at crows. I must have killed hundreds of them, both from up close and from very far away.

Two of those crows spotted me on Saturday afternoon, and would have shot me too, if only they had guns.

They don't have guns and neither do I, anymore.

The 5 minutes I spent fighting them off, as I slowly walked along the upper cycling road towards the 両神橋 on my way to the BBQ party, made me wish that I had a slingshot.

I could have saved a lot of energy by using an archery type method of self-defense on them.

Crows are big and intelligent birds. They can be noisy and obnoxious, and they do harass my favorite sky rider, the Eagle Hawk 鷹 鳶.

Maybe the eagle hawk and I should join forces to drive away the crows.

Naaaah!, it will never happen. Crows will always be with us.


2008 June 26 Thursday thru June 29 Sunday.

The warm and sunny weather continues, but on some days, it can be a bit cold at night.

On Thursday, Ikuko wanted to go to the Korean BBQ Restaurant KinKaRo
金花郎 because they have an all you can eat plan on Thursday's only.

There are two KinKaRo Korean BBQ that I know of.

The closest one to our house is on 1 Jodori at about 5 Chome.

It is a short easy walk from our place, but we took a longer detour along the cycling road of the Chubetsu River in order to get some much needed exercise.

When we got there, we we happy to see that there would be no waiting for a table, which is rather unusual because this place is always packed full of hungry people.

We got a nice private booth and started looking at the menu. The all-you-can-eat plan 食べ放題 is 2,700 yen per person, plus drinks.

The all-you-can-drink plan 飲み放題 is 1,290 per person, plus food.
Hmmmm,.... What to do?

Easy choice, get the all-you-can-drink option and then order food as we see fit.

So, that's what we did. While we were there, I recognized one of the waitresses as a former student at my classroom.

She is now about 22 years old, and is going to a technical school in Eniwa, so she can become a Certified Nutritionist.

It was very pleasant to see her again, and she was doing a very good job as a waitress on this evening.

The service was prompt, the food was delicious and the beer was ice cold. Total cost for the evening meal, a little over 7,000 yen.

Not a low price but a fair price. Remember, both locations of this restaurant are almost always full, with people standing in line outside the shop waiting for it to open at 17:00 on weekdays and 16:00 on weekends.

Another excellent example, of a very well run small business that makes money hand over fist.

Ikuko and I, will certainly go there again and again.

My Friday morning class at the
Dokan Nusring School was a lot of fun as usual.

Today we enacted a skit about buying some sunglasses and asking for a discount and then a bigger discount.

I was the shop owner and the students played the part of the customer.

I call each and every student by name, and they have to do the skit either once, twice or thrice until they have completely memorized, all of their lines.

I gave them the script about two weeks ago, so most of them got it right on their first try.

Sometimes, I will attempt to throw the students off of their mental balance by saying something that is not written in the script.

For example, the first line in the skit is the shop owner saying; "Welcome! How may I help you today?"

But sometimes I say it in Korean as; "O So O Se Yo!"

The idea here, is to get the student to stop and think and hopefully respond with; "Do you speak English?"

To which I say; "Yes, I do. May I help you?" and then the skit continues.

Of course, some of the students speak English better than other students, and they will Ad Lib during the skit, making it much more interesting and enjoyable for everyone.

On Saturday at about noon, I received a telephone call from an old friend, inviting Ikuko and myself to an outdoor BBQ party at his house.

Ikuko already had plans to go to Sapporo and attend some type of seminar about making money as an internet affiliate website, so I went to the BBQ party by myself.

The person who invited me and Ikuko to come over to his house today, is a
long time restaurant owner in Asahikawa, and he always has the best ingredients for his BBQ parties.

Again, this location is within easy walking distance from my home, so I took a stroll in the very warm afternoon sun.

I even was able to stop at an old time Rice Wine Shop and pick up 2 bottles of 男山笹おり all malt rice wine at a premium price, and bring it with me to the party.
Mr. Baba has two grandchildren, both of whom I have not met in about 2 years. Kids grow up fast.

The granddaughter was especially looking bigger and more like a girl, than a baby.

She and I spent most of the party time feeding watermelon rinds to the many black ants walking around on the asphalt, and later hide and seek with her inside the house running from window to window on the first floor, and I trying to locate her with my eyes, as I sat next to her mother and the other guests outside, drinking the best nectar and eating the best foods, while they talked about things of which I know not, and while I played at a distance with a very cute and lively girl.

Human Relations. You don't need a PhD to figure it out.

After the party was winding down at whatever time it was, I walked back home across the bridge and went to bed, almost immediately.

Ikuko wasn't home yet, because she took the last train from Sapporo to Asahikawa.

I went to bed and slept quite well, thank you.

I didn't get out of bed on Sunday until about 10:30, and didn't get around to checking my email until about 13:00, because I was very dug in at my Private Hokkaido.

When I did check my email, I discovered that Charlie Hamel had sent me a message about a Festival in HigashiKawa Town.

I didn't know anything about this event, so I called Charlie and left a message on his answering machine.

It turns out that there is a festival with fireworks at the the HigashiKawa Forest Park 東神楽森林公園 during most of Sunday.

Ikuko and I both had risen early, and gone to bed late on Saturday, so we had to decline the Hamel Family's generous invitation, and stay at home tonight.

Summer has just only begun.

There will be many more opportunities to get out and enjoy the warm weather, during the next several months.

I Can't Wait to see what happens next.


2008 June 23 Monday thru June 25 Wednesday.

Monday morning at 10:00 I had my first gig of this year at the Chestnut Tree Kindergarten くりの木幼稚園.

You can see a photo of the chipmunk who guards the front door of the building, above/left.

This kindergarten has about 220 students and they all assemble at the same time in the big hall for my performance, so it is almost impossible to talk face to face with any one student at a time.

Therefore, I bring my guitar along with me, plus a lot of big colorful laminated flash cards, that are related to the songs, and the kids and I spend most of the hour singing songs together.

What else can I do in such a situation?

Kids just naturally respond to music and in fact understand it better than spoken language at this point in their lives.

After that was finished at about 11:10, I took my sweet time driving back to my place, because the weather was so beautiful today.

At 13:00 I had my usual 90 minute class at the 神楽公民館で英会話を楽しむ会.

One of the students, the longest attending member of this class, told us about a 3 day trip she and her husband had recently taken to the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.

She described many interesting things about her trip, including the fact that they had visited the

When she told all of us the reason for their visit to the shrine, it literally blew my mind.

It turns out that her husband's father was killed on the tiny island of Iwo Jima, in 1945 during the
Pacific War!!!

I almost fell out of my chair. I myself have also lived on the island of Iwo Jima for about one year in 1976 as a member of the United States Coast Guard.

In fact, that is where I first started learning the Japanese Language.

Another amazing fact about this lady, is that she is the ONLY original member of this group that is still in attendance, after 12 years of continuous classes!!!

Is this a coincidence??? Or, is it synchronicity.

You decide. I already KNOW what IT is.

By the way, a word about Yasukuni Shrine.

In my opinion, visiting Yasukuni Shrine by any Japanese person, be it the Prime Minister of Japan or the garbage man of Shinjuku, is a TOTALLY PRIVATE matter for that person.

Anybody who criticizes someone for visiting the shrine, is out of line.

In the newspapers, on TV and other media, I often see China or Korea or some other country making a big fuss over the Japanese Prime Minister's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

It is none of their phucking business! The only difference between a WAR HERO and a WAR CRIMINAL, is the fact that the war hero's country WON THE WAR, and the war criminal's country LOST THE WAR.

That is all. WAR IS ATROCITIES!!!

We never hear anybody criticizing the President of the USA for laying a big flower wreath at the

Use your phuckin' brains and get a clue. WAR IS ATROCITIES and Yasukuni Shrine is an issue for the Japanese People, and the Japanese People ONLY!

The rest of you can all go jump into the Pacific Ocean.

The TRUTH between RED blood and GOLD medals is ORANGE goo.


2008 June 21 Saturday and June 22 Sunday.

This is the time of the year when the SUN rises early, and sets late in the Northern Hemisphere.

Hokkaido is not the northernmost place that I have ever lived.

In fact, Seattle Washington USA is farther north than Asahikawa, but it rains so much there, you might not even notice the extended daylight hours if you have lived near Seattle all your life.

No, the farthest north I have ever lived was, KODIAK ALASKA.

That place is much, much father north than any place in Japan.

I lived in Kodiak for 2 and one half years, so I was able to experience the Summer Solstice from that location, two times.

In Kodiak Alaska during this time of the year, the sun sets at about midnight, and then rises again at about 03:00 hours.

In other words, the sky never gets completely dark.

As a result, there are many outdoor activities such as; drunken softball games, volleyball games, and the like.

On the other hand, during the Winter Solstice, Kodiak is very, very dark all day long.

Rather depressing when considering the fact that there is not much to do there during the winter season.

No natural hot springs to ease the pain.

Hokkaido is much, much better when it comes to human comforts.

In all seasons. When I lived in Alaska from 1978 until 1980, I met many people who told me that Alaska was the best place to live on this earth.

For a while I almost believed them, but with all things considered, I decided that it was not true for me.

For one thing, everything in Alaska is so big, that it is difficult to feel as if you have an intimate relationship with nature.

Every city, town or village, is so far away from every other city, town or village, that you really need an airplane to get around.

A long time ago, someone told me that, there are more small airplanes in Alaska than there are passenger cars.

From my experience, that sounds about right to me.

When I lived in Kodiak Alaska, I was a member of the United States Coast Guard working as an Aviation Electronics Technician (AT3) and flying around in HC-130 airplanes as a radioman/navigator.

As such, I visited almost every major airfield that there is in Alaska.

In other words, I have seen almost all of Alaska from the air.

It is HUGE, and mostly UGLY.

The most beautiful part of Alaska is the SouthEastern part around Juneau and Sitka, which shares a national border with Canada.

In that part of Alaska, there are lots of really big and tall trees, and even a few natural hot springs.

The rest of the state is rather barren with nothing of real interest to see for the common tourist. However, I do understand the feelings of most residents of Alaska, when they say that it is the best place in the USA to live, if you want to get away from crowded cities.

That is true to the extreme.

If you really want to live where there is absolutely nothing at all, Alaska would be a good choice.

I prefer an island called Hokkaido where you can visit the 5th largest city in Japan (Sapporo) and yet, get away to any other place on this island, on the beach at the sea or in the mountains, where there is absolutely nobody else around, for as far as you can see.
I have found my true spiritual home. HOKKAIDO.

How about you? Home is where the HEART is.

And at times, a good home must be relocated.

To a place where THE PATH is clearly visible.


2008 June 16 Monday thru June 20 Friday.

The Summer Solstice is here and now, once again, just like it is every year at this time.

Why is this important?

That depends upon your occupation, but for farmers and other folks who live close to the natural world, this is the apex of the sun's ascent into the northern hemisphere.

We all know that the word "summer" means 夏, but what does the word "Solstice" really mean?

SOL means SUN, from the ancient Latin Language, and STICE means STOP.

In other words, the SUN STOPS its climb up to its highest point in the sky, appears to stay there for about 3 days, and then begins to gradually get lower in the sky at HIGH NOON 正午, every day of the year until about December 22 when the Winter Solstice occurs.

This is ancient knowledge and is just so much common sense, that it seems as if it is not worth mentioning at all.

Except for the fact that when I talk to a lot of high school and even college kids and mention the words 夏至 or 冬至 , about 50% of the students have no idea of what I am talking about.

YIKES!!! Think about that for a moment.

We all live through it every year, and everybody notices that the days get longer and the nights get shorter, as we approach the Summer Solstice.

And likewise, after about 3 days we all notice that the days get shorter, and the nights get longer, as we cycle on over to the Autumn Equinox and back on into the Winter Solstice.

How could any living entity be it PLANT or ANIMAL or PLASMA, fail to notice this???? The answer is that EVERYTHING notices this, but only about 50% of the young people today, know how to describe it, or what it is called in modern language.

That is one reason why I am sure to bring this subject up in all of my classes, when they happen during these important times of the yearly cycle.

By the way, when Ikuko and I went out for an evening walk on Wednesday, we were greeted by a full view of a FULL MOON rising above the TAISETSU ARENA, and still low in the SouthEastern Sky which made it appear to be RED.

The CHERRY MOON. Full and beautiful.

What a trip, and I only had to step outside from the back door of my abode to enjoy it all.

We enjoyed walking by the light of the moon for about one hour in the warm evening air.

A full cherry moon near the summer solstice.

A memory that will last forever.

2008 June 14 Saturday and June 15 Sunday.

I had a private lesson with the 9 year old elementary school girl as usual on

Saturday morning, but today her mother told me that her daughter has a headache, and also she slightly injured her right leg during some kind of sports activity, so they wanted a 30 minute lesson, instead of the full 50 - 60 minutes, which we have every week.

The young girl's lack of concentration today was rather obvious, but I tried my best to make her feel better and extend the time to 50 minutes or more.

I was only able to coax 40 minutes out of her today, but that is much better than nothing.

Either way, I get paid the same so it's not about money for me, but rather about student SATISFACTION with my job performance.

I take that more seriously than anything else, in every teaching job that I do.

I am there FOR THE STUDENT. The student is NOT there for me.

In Japanese they have a well known saying that goes like this; お客様は神様です. Meaning; The Customer is GOD.

If you are an entrepreneur who owns and runs a small business, of any kind, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Even if you live in the Western World, some people STILL GET IT.

It's about a WIN=WIN situation.

There need not be any losers, in the game of LIFE.

Ya see, the IDEAL is total co-operation.

Helping yourself BY helping each other.

How simple is that? As you all know, I have been an inhabitant of HOKKAIDO for more than 18 years NOW.

When I first arrived here on March 12, 1990,..... I immediately had a good feeling about this place.

So did Charlie Hamel and family, when they first set down, BOOTS ON THE GROUND at the Asahikawa International Airport, on 2008 March 26.

I have been corresponding with Charlie for more than about 2 years via the internet, but I only just recently, met him and his family, face to face for the first time, on that March afternoon.

Since that time, Charlie has been publishing a Private Blog for family and friends only, the URL of which I will not make public.

As I have been reading his blog everyday since it was begun, I have come to realize that Charlie and Me, have a lot of things in common, when it comes to living in JAPAN, especially HOKKAIDO.

This little old island has a lot to offer. It is easily visible on a world map.

In the big city of Sapporo and some districts of small city Asahikawa, land prices are very expensive.

In other locations around Hokkaido, you can get LAND FOR FREE.

If you are willing to,...... etc.

I am not making this up. There really is FREE LAND IN HOKKAIDO.

I have even see a big sign by a rest stop that was inviting people to move to the village in exchange for free land.

I may have even taken a photo of it. I'll look for it later.

By the way, the photo in today's blog shows what I did for the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday.

I made a new series of 105 Conversation Topic Cards, for use with mostly adult students.

The small stack of black and white cards that you can see at the top of the photo, are the ones that I made about 12 years ago.

At that time, we only had a simple word-processor, cardboard sheets, glue and wide cellophane tape.

They have worked well over the years, but it's time to reinvent the wheel, an totally remake and expand this set of teaching/learning materials.

Now that I have a PC with graphics software, a color ink-jet printer and a laminating machine, I can make much more professional looking flash cards, and so on.

The entire job took me about 12 hours over several days to complete.

I will make more later. Time to go take a walk.


2008 June 10 Tuesday thru June 13 Friday.

And the beat goes on.

The photo above/left is of our favorite Grilled Chicken やきとり restaurant.

It is known as ToriSen とりせん and you can get a feel for the place by viewing the photo in today's blog.

The shop has been around for a long time, ever since I first came to this town 18 years ago, and most likely much longer than before that time.

The entire staff is female, except for one older guy, who is the main chef.

They make a unique type of サンギ which is a Hokkaido word for deep fried chicken nuggets, except at this place, they make it with the bones still inside.

Sort of similar to Southern Fried Chicken.

It's crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside.

On Wednesday, I had a class with the first year students at the Kosei Nursing school as usual.

Every year, at least one of the new first year students, has already graduated from a junior college and has some employment experience, before enrolling in this nursing school.

As such, they already have enough credits for English, in order to graduate from this school.

Therefore, I sign a piece of paper saying that I acknowledge this fact, and do not require them to attend my English class.

Each time I do this, the student will stop coming to my class.

Except for this year. The young woman told me that she enjoyed my class so much that she wanted to attend, even though she is not required to do so.

I told her how happy I was that she enjoyed my class and thanked her for continuing to attend.

That made both of us feel pretty good.

The rest of my classes for the week went pretty much as usual, both at home and away.

The weather has been overcast, rainy and a bit cold this entire week.

I hope it gets sunny and warm on this weekend.

Summer officially starts next weekend.


2008 June 9 Monday.

Happy 12th Anniversary to the only child, that me and my wife have given birth to, together.

The child's name is;
Snowman's American English Family Classroom.

Has it really been that long?

Yes, it has. But, that is not the whole story.

The idea for having my own Language Learning/Language Teaching Classroom, started more than 30 years ago.

That is the time, when I first visited Japan as a member of the USCG.

After one week at Yokota Air Base, I was flown to the tiny island of Iwo Jima 硫黄島, for a 12 month tour of duty.

It was at that time, and on that island, that I first began to learn the Japanese Language.

I really liked this new challenge, and I spent every spare moment learning how to speak, read and write this most beautiful of all
pentatonic scale spoken languages.

A pentatonic scale, has only 5 notes in the octave.

Likewise, Japanese has only 5 vowel sounds あ い う え お in the ENTIRE LANGUAGE!

Is this unusual? Yes, very.

I can think of only one other modern language, that is spoken by enough people on this planet today, to rank in the
TOP TEN INTERNET LANGUAGES, that has 5 or less vowel sounds.

That language is Spanish.

Anyway, since that time, I have spent countless hours learning the Japanese Language.

Now, it is a very useful tool in my daily life.

Not only that, but I know exactly what it is like for someone else to begin learning a totally new, and completely different foreign language, from the ground up.

If learning languages is interesting, wouldn't teaching them to other people be just the same, or even more interesting?

Yes, it would be. And it certainly has been. And it will continue to BE.

If you can make your most interesting hobby, into your life's work, you have a job in paradise.

A paradise that welcomes each and everyone, who is WILLING to put forth the EFFORT required to make it happen.

ABC is really C B A. Conceive, Believe, Achieve.

How simple is that? ABC, 123.

Back to basics, and a lifestyle that makes sense, in all aspects of that lifestyle.

If you really hate your present job, do yourself a big favor, and ask yourself this simple question.

"Did I, myself, go to this company and apply for a job, OR did the company come to my house, and force me at gun-point, to work long hours for little pay."

Which is it? I think we all know the answer to that question.


2008 June 8 Sunday.

What a busy Sunday.

First on my list, was a drive over to Shibinai Elementary School
志比内小学校 to observe their 99th annual Sports Day Event 第99回 運動会.

I got there just a few minutes after 09:00, and the opening ceremony was already underway.

This very long standing school has only 15 students this year.

It was the most intimate school sports day, I have ever been to.

The only reason I know anything about this school, is because my friend Charlie Hamel has one of his two kids, attending school there.

You can see the entire student body in the photo above/left.

Charlie's other kid is still too young to attend elementary school so he had lots of free time today.

He and I, and a lot of the other smaller kids did various things together like; playing catch with a soft baseball and two gloves.

Kicking a soccer ball around and finally having water gun fights amongst ourselves with the tiny little plastic water guns that the school had given out as prizes, after one of the earlier events.

I had to leave before 12:00, so that I could swing by my house to pick up Ikuko, and then drive on over to the Citizens Culture Hall
市民文化会館 to listen to only 3 of the 37 chorus groups that performed during the long day 第54回 旭川合唱会.

After we listened to the groups that we came to hear, Ikuko and I left the hall, and drove back into Kagura to shop for food, and batteries for my digital cameras.

The weather today is excellent, and summer is just around the corner.

Starting at about 18:00, Ikuko and I had a private 2 person Korean BBQ party on our big balcony.

Of course, as with any cook-out, there has to be lots of delicious all malt beer, to wash down the freshly cooked meats.

Today we roasted lots of beef strips which I marinated in salt, course black pepper, vinegar and soy sauce.

After the beef strips were cooked, they were immersed in 大根おろし sauce and then folded into a leaf of fresh green lettuce.

The final touch before putting it into the mouth, was a huge frosting of
hot red pepper paste right on the outside tip of the green food missile.

Then, put it straight into your mouth and bite down hard.

The first taste sensation, is the hot red pepper paste, soon followed by the BBQed beef and it's Giant Radish soy sauce juicy flavor.

As you begin to chew into the unit, the refreshing taste of the green lettuce begins to take over your palate, and you have yourself a juicy mini meal.

This is an excellent way to eat charcoal grilled beef strips, and I highly recommend it.

But,..... don't wear a white shirt when eating this, and have plenty of moist hand towels おしぼり sitting on the table, within easy reach.